Micro-story #1: The Pipes Produce

The mayor, one Herman Lefawn, of Wheatlow, a small town that farmed golden grains for the governing bodies of the Grand Chivalrous Alliance, had endured much in recent weeks.  He’d endured his gardeners accidentally opening a hole to a cavern older than sin directly beneath his impressive homestead (all he’d wanted was a simple spot for his chestnut trees), he’d endured the hideous arcane creatures that had slithered out from it, and he was now enduring the worst music he’d ever heard.  It will all be over soon, he thought.  Better screeching pipes than dragon roars.  Smile and nod.  Can I even manage both at once through this din?  

The accidental connection of the caves to Wheatlow exposed the town to a den of dragons, and it was no ordinary den either.  It was a rare mixed den, with ten different types of firebreather all living together.  Normally the fiendish reptiles couldn’t stand each other, but near the end of the last age they’d been forced to coexist as dark caves and kingdoms that couldn’t protect themselves had grown scarcer.  There were so few mixed dens in fact, that only one book of legends in the town’s library even mentioned such a thing, and it was in fact the punchline of a joke written by the town fool Jin-min-gaw some two hundred and thirty years prior.

It certainly wasn’t funny when one of them got into a territorial dispute with the grotesques and gargoyles atop Lefawn’s home.  The infernal lizard was more than ten feet long and had a mane of thin spikes, daring to mimic the noble lion on his family crest.  He watched in horror, hidden in a bush that his gardeners had failed to keep kemp (and thinking about releasing said gardeners from his employ after so many errors), as it gurgled and gnawed the horned heads off his edifice.

Dragons charged into Wheatlow like bulls, burning homes, keeping warm under children’s beds, and stealing livestock.  Herman was worried he would have to call in the knights of the Alliance, who, while perfectly equipped to handle dragons, were expensive and didn’t handle their celebratory mead anywhere near as well.  It seemed a stroke of luck when a traveling wizard arrived.  He certainly looked the part with his green star-patterned socks that nearly reached his groin, his strange pointy hat, and a cape black as night.  The wizard promised to free Wheatlow of the beasts, and asked for only ten minutes before the mayor’s ears as payment.  Herman happily agreed.

He stood on a hill, golden grains under his boots, behind a fence with his daughter Marne while he watched the wizard go to work.  The girl had just turned seventeen, legal marrying age in the Alliance, and Herman had been watching her like a hawk to keep the buzzing suitors off of her.  Marne didn’t mind at the time; she’d never seen a wizard work before, outside of the controlled whimsy of court magic shows where hats produced birds, rabbits, or monogrammed handkerchiefs.

The wizard defied their expectations in the most offensive way.  He brought out not a wand, cauldron, or catalyst to drive the dragons back to their hole, but a set of bagpipes.  When he started to play Herman and Mawne clapped their hands over their ears.  Even up on the hill they heard it like their faces were pressed into the soft side of the instrument.  The music was magical, each horrendous, but on key, note also, somehow, producing a word or two.

Hear the pipes and heed me,

To end this day alive,

Their work is what feeds me,

And lets me really thrive

Dragons be under me thumb,

Stop your mischief now,

Don’t touch a single crumb,

Or I’ll make you pull the plow

The magic is set loose,

‘cause that’s what the pipes produce!

The magic is set loose,

‘cause that’s what the pipes produce!

The song was dreadful, but it did its job.  Every scaly mouth snapped shut and slithered to the wizard.  He pet them like dogs and marched them all to the mayor’s home.  Herman and Marne rushed back to meet with him.  The wizard was already there when they arrived, smiling a yellow smile and handing a grasshopper to a tiny red dragon perched on his shoulder.  The creature swallowed the bug in two bites.  The mayor and his daughter ignored the dragons resting behind him and offered their thanks.

“I ask only for my time before your ear,” the wizard said, skipping the pleasantries.  “I have a song that you simply must hear.”  Herman had promised after all.  He escorted the wizard to the sitting room, before their biggest fireplace and its black iron gates, and invited him to play his music.  A few of the smaller dragons waddled along behind him as he centered himself in the room and prepared his instrument.  He played.  The mayor endured.  The lyrics of the song disturbed him greatly.  The song demanded that the wizard be given Marne’s hand in marriage.  Herman and Marne looked down at her hand in horror and saw a ring magically appear.  She tried desperately to pull it off, but it would not budge.  The song had glued it to her skin.  The wizard played another verse and Marne was pulled by unseen hands to his side.

“Wait!  Wait!” the mayor cried.  “I will give you anything else.  Do not take my daughter!  She is my joy!  She is my song!

“I can’t stand the bagpipes,” she seethed in the wizard’s face.  “I’d rather marry a dragon!”

“In truth I don’t really want your daughter,” the wizard said.  “Here’s the real reason I caught her.”

He’s rhyming when he speaks, Herman realized.  Not every rhyme was perfect, but the rhythm was there.  The wizard couldn’t hide it.  Herman knew his history well.  Those who spoke in rhyme were older than normal people.  They had no heartbeat; the beats in their words served the same role.  He had a melody instead of a soul.  The wizard was really a powerful spirit of the song, one who had no doubt suffered greatly among his own kind for his choice in instrument.

“I would honestly just like a position,” the wizard sang, barely suppressing his glee.  “As your official musician!”

Herman stared at the small dragons, their obedient throats pressed against his fine carpet, their eyes dulled by the mesmerizing melodies.  He can do anything!  Perhaps he opened that hole with one blow on his horns.  Perhaps the dragons were just escaping his song.  We have no choice.  His music is ours.  He is the anthem of Wheatlow.  The mayor conceded and hired the wizard.  He would endure the songs every day for his people and for Marne.  Smile and nod.  Yes, at the same time.

The magic is set loose,

‘cause that’s what the pipes produce! 

The magic is set loose,

‘cause that’s what the pipes produce!

 

THE END

That is my first custom micro-story, created from a suggestion by Grumpy Axolotl.  I now pass full ownership rights of the story and its characters to them, with the caveat that the story will remain posted on this blog.  if you would like your own custom micro-story, simply read this post and leave a comment.  I don’t know how many I’ll have time for, but I’ll do my best.

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4 thoughts on “Micro-story #1: The Pipes Produce

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